Ed. note: In this column, GOLF’s playing editor and 2020 U.S. Open champ shares how he transformed his putting, what went right at Winged Foot, how to stop hitting hooks, and why he loves his car.
My putting transformation
The biggest thing in my life has been trying to figure out how to reduce variables. That was the approach I took to improving my putting when I got on Tour. I had struggled with my putting my whole life — in college and junior golf. I had some good memories, like winning the U.S. Amateur and NCAAs, but I was never as consistent as I liked.
My first experiment with the arm-lock method came in 2017 when I tried a side-saddle technique. Just because the technique didn’t stick, that experiment wasn’t a failure. Going through that process allowed me to learn from it and develop the technique with my partners at SIK putters and LAGP golf shafts that I use today. The biggest change from college to now has been my setup. That’s something that would improve a lot of average golfers’ strokes: Standing a little closer to the ball, with the putter shaft more upright, will reduce the arc the putterhead traces. It’ll swing more straight back and straight through.
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What went right at Winged Foot
Winning the U.S. Open at Winged Foot was such a special week, something I’m not going to forget for a long time.
During quarantine last year, I worked harder than I ever had in my life. I was doing two- and three-a-day speed-training sessions. If one of my muscles was sore, I would immediately work through it in the gym. I wanted to train my body to push its threshold and not let little tweaks linger. When the Tour started back up again, I felt like a different golfer. Winged Foot was the reward of all that work, and I hope it inspires people so they know that with hard work, they can accomplish anything they want to in life.
A lot of people talked about how I drove the ball that week, but I think they forget my whole game was firing that week. I was in the top three in SG: Approach and SG: Around the Green, I putted great and mentally I was in a good place. You can’t win the U.S. Open doing just one thing well. It tests every part of your game.
How to stop hitting round-wrecking hooks
When I studied Jordan Spieth’s swing after his amazing 2015 season, I realized that his left elbow stayed facing the target for a long time after impact. Some people call it a “chicken wing.” I call it reaching the max end range of upper and external rotation in the lead arm. If you struggle with hooks, all you need to know is to keep your left elbow pointing at the target through the ball.
When you let your lead arm fold in, and the elbow points behind you, the clubhead passes your hands and closes. When you keep your lead elbow pointing at the target, the clubface can’t close. When I started doing this, I realized quickly that I couldn’t ever hit it left. I went from being a top-100 player in the world to a top-10 player in the world.
Why I love my car
When I’m not studying the biomechanics of the golf swing, I’m probably geeking out over cars. I’m so blessed to be part of the Bentley family and to have worked with their Dallas office to custom-design a 2021 Bentayga model, which I’ll be using when I’m home during the off weeks.